It seems like all over the internet there are guides giving advice on
specific locations or countries. Some of their advice can range from
very specific to extremely broad, making it all the more confusing as
to what advice might carry over into a different country. But what
advice do all these guides have in common?
Here are some general rules to apply when expanding your business to
1. Understand the Market
Market research is absolutely vital when trying to reach a certain
segment. When expanding internationally, this step is crucial. Markets
vary widely by country and region, market research for a specific
area/region is highly recommended.
Some things to consider while putting together market research:
- Local currencies
- Potential client base in your market segment
- Number of local competitors currently in your target segment
- Foreign competitors in the desired market segment
If performing business from your home country and shipping to a
foreign country, ask yourself: Do they take my currency? Could I take
their local currency? What kind of people am I trying to sell my
product to? What type of people need my product? Which companies in
that market are already selling a product similar to what I am trying
to sell? Is that market oversaturated?
Asking and answering these types of questions can help verify that
your business can become successful in your next venture.
2. Know the Regional Politics
On the outside, a venture might seem extremely viable, but if the
political climate is not advantageous then everything can stop in its
tracks. If governmental entities are unwelcoming to foreigners or
certain types of businesses, then adjustments should be made accordingly.
Things to look out for regarding regional politics include:
- Recently passed legislation regarding the business sector your
company is attempting to enter
- Any tariffs or exceptional high duties
- Past and present tensions between the country of origin and the
country your business is attempting to expand to
Has the country you’re operating from been at odds with the country
you are trying to perform business with recently? Have the respective
governments responded by putting tariffs and other restrictions on
each other? Such actions would make trying to get your product within
that country extremely expensive and could potentially ruin the
competitive advantage you once held over your foreign competitors.
Additionally, if the country residents are highly involved in these
politics, they might boycott your product anyway. It is important to
consider this a highly relevant factor when attempting to expand internationally.
3. Study the Culture
The culture difference can be a make-or-break point when introducing
a new business within a foreign culture. Certain topics might be
considered more taboo, other countries may hold more conservative
values, and different countries might have almost no boundaries at all.
Here are some techniques to get an accurate grasp of a country’s culture:
Analyze Their Media - If a country’s media
broadcasts highly controversial or offensive content, business in
this country may not be good for business. Media analysis can also
often give you an idea of what’s popular with your demographic and
help you advertise abroad.
Look at Their Laws - Some countries might ban
certain demographics from certain activities by the letter of their
law. In that case, it would not be wise to release a product that
would make those demographics legally vulnerable or unsafe.
Know Their History - Countries historically go
through phases, yet many aspects of their culture remain constant
over time. It’s important to understand major historical movements
that have happened within your target country, how they affected or
changed the culture, and whether are not some of those impacts are
still lasting today. Additionally, it is vital to identify ongoing
movements and build that into your brand identity for marketing
within that country.
Also, understand that cultures within countries can also vary by
region as well, so the more specific an analysis is to the target area
the better. It is vital to know if your product or service would
transition well within a country’s culture to gauge how successful it
has the potential to be. For example, avoid selling products that go
against a religious belief held by the majority or confront a cultural
taboo in the country you are looking to do business in. It is vital to
identify whether your product has a “fit” within the culture you are
trying to sell to.
With all three of these major factors in mind, you are now ready to
successfully expand your business abroad and find yourself a market
with the perfect fit for your product or service and the Van Andel
Global Trade Center (VAGTC) can help! Whether you are a company just
starting to consider global expansion or have been at it for a few
years, VAGTC can help you go global or expand into new markets. With
funding opportunities available for small and medium-sized businesses
from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)
through the Michigan State Trade Expansion Program (STEP),
there is no better time than now to start or expand your export operations!
For more specialized information on expanding your business
internationally and getting connected to the MEDC and STEP, schedule a
consultation with the Van Andel
Global Trade Center to answer any questions and get connected.
ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR
is a Student Assistant at
GVSU’s Van Andel Global Trade Center
. She is a Senior currently pursuing an undergraduate degree
in Finance, Human Resource Management, and General Management at
Grand Valley State University. She enjoys lifting weights, getting
lost in a good video game, spending time with friends, and going on
Edited by Parker Mackey, a student assistant at
the Van Andel Global Trade Center.
May 18, 2023
Germany has one of the most successful economies in the
world, ranking fourth globally in GDP. This is largely due to its
reliable infrastructure and workforce, as well as its positive social
and legal climate. Germany has a wealth of scientific and
technological research with firm practical applications.
Efficient transportation networks and high nationwide
competence in English make Germany an accessible location to foster
business partnerships. In addition,
impressive import-export statistics state that Germany is “the
second largest importer and third largest exporter of consumer
oriented agricultural products worldwide, and by far the most
important European market for foreign producers.”
However, there are a few hurdles foreign companies may face. Because
Germany has such a successful economy and leads most of Europe in
trade, it reserves the right to be choosy with whom forms meaningful
partnerships. This means that companies must go through long
bureaucratic processes when setting up shop in the country. However,
these “drawbacks” simply mean that the chance to trade with German
companies should be regarded as a high accomplishment.
German business etiquette is more formal than other trade
relationships may be. Success in the business world of Germany relies
on these key components:
Punctuality: German partners expect punctuality,
including setting meetings well ahead and arriving on time and prepared.
Formality: Foreign partners are expected to
maintain a high level of formality, including using titles and
steering clear of controversial or personal topics. Partners should
allow the German party to initiate more casual conversations.
Additionally, while many German people are proficient in English,
it’s considered a thoughtful gesture to translate documents into German.
Detail: German business partners appreciate
organization. According to Wolters
Kluwer, “The German mindset values detail, order, and
structure. Expect to examine each aspect of a project in detail with
Interested in learning more?
Join us on May 24th for a virtual Business
Travelers Series session on Navigating Germany! We
will cover how-tos and best practices for doing business in the German
market, as well as, how to maneuver through cultural nuances business
professionals often face while working with or traveling to Germany.
This event is generously sponsored by The Gerald R.Ford
International Airport and
Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC).
About the Contributor
is a Student Assistant at
GVSU’s Van Andel Global
. They are a 2nd-year junior pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts in
Studio Arts, emphasis painting. They also work for GVSU’s History
Department, transcribing for the Library of Congress’s
Veterans History Project
. They enjoy painting, hiking, and listening to folk punk.
May 8, 2023
Forced labor has been a huge issue that U.S. Customs and other
government agencies have been attempting to crack down on as of late
2021, the majority of 2022, and continued efforts going into 2023.
By the Congressional
Research Service definition, forced labor is considered to be
“all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace
of any penalty for its nonperformance and for which the worker does
not offer himself voluntarily.”
Introduction to Section 307
Section 307 under the Tariff Act of 1930 prohibits the importation of
any products that were created using forced labor.
Here is how Section 307 was put into effect:
- Receipt of allegation or self-initiation
- CBP Commissioner initiated CBP an investigation.
- CBP Commissioner issues a Withhold Release Order (WRO)
- Importer may export merchandise or contest the WRO
- Any final readings are published in the Federal Register
- CBP seizes non exported merchandise and commences forfeiture proceedings
With these actions in mind, reports that are made to the Commissioner
of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) cannot be unwarranted;
there are certain standards for reporting that must be met.
include “any individual that has reason to believe that any class of
merchandise that is being, or is likely to be, imported into the
United States is being produced by Forced Labor” have a valid argument
to file a claim. In accordance with 19 CFR 12.42, Port Directors and
other Principal Customs Officers are mandated reporters and if someone
not in this role has concerns, they may share with the Port Director
Investigations regarding these reports under Section 307 also have a
set of standards
These include statements regarding how an investigation is initiated
“as appears warranted by the amount and reliability of the submitted
information” and a Commissioner of CBP must find that the information
“reasonably but not conclusively indicates that imports may be the
product of forced labor” to release a WRO to the related items.
Contesting a WRO
If a company has the unfortunate luck of receiving a WRO, not all is
lost– it is possible to contest a WRO with a set of procedures that
were posted by the Congressional Research Service.
Here are the general
guidelines for contesting a WRO:
- Importer has three months to contest the WRO
- The importer must demonstrate that “every reasonable effort” was
made to show the source and type of labor used to produce an item
and its parts.
- If WRO is not successfully contested or is not exported from the
US, CBP will seize and destroy the afflicted items
- CBP will then publish the date, type of merchandise, manufacturer,
and status of WRO
- However, CBP will not post specific detentions,
re-exportations, exclusions, or seizures
Forced Labor Enforcement Advancements
Though Section 307 has been around for a number of years now,
advancements in the area of forced labor enforcement have increased as
During January 2022, U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) announced
the development of “first-ever focused trade strategy to combat forced labor.”
plan entails a series of partnerships of government
organizations with non-government organizations (NGO’s) and civil
society organizations (CSO’s).
More specifically, the Department of Homeland Security (DCS), with
the aid of the NGO’s and CSO’s, will also launch supply chain criminal
investigations– the first ever of its kind. The main purpose of these
criminal investigations is to help identify and shut down human
trafficking efforts, charge those who are directly responsible, and
protect the victims of these acts.
External Applications - Combating Illegal Fishing
Surprisingly, a big sector with ongoing forced labor issues has been
the live fishing industry.
A new presidential directive has led to search and investigation of
fishery supply chains that are suspected of using forced labor and
contributing to human trafficking in response to this growing issue.
As permitted by the new directive U.S. Customs & Border
Protection are instructed to:
- Investigate fishing vessels and operators suspected to be
harvesting seafood with forced labor and issue a withhold release
- Share evidence with allies and partners to encourage parallel
customs enforcement actions.
- Investigate prospective civil penalties cases against importers
connected to previously issued fishing vessel WROs.
This is quite a daunting task for the CBP to do alone, so they have
enlisted the help
of external agencies to leverage existing and emerging
technologies to detect IUU fishing and prevent or deter illegal
seafood imports from entering the U.S. market as well as consider the
use of countervailing duties, Section 301 tariffs, import
declarations, Pelly Amendment certifications, and due diligence
requirements to counter forced labor in the sea food supply chain.
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has also been tasked
with combating this specific issue. According to ST&R,
it has been requested that USTR “engage with free trade agreement
partners, preference program beneficiaries, and others to address
forced labor and other abusive labor practices in fishing.” In
addition, they have also been asked to “collaborate with Canada and
Mexico to prohibit imports of goods, including seafood, produced in
whole or in part by forced labor.”
External Applications - Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act
Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) was signed into law on
December 23, 2021 by President Biden after a major issue of mass
amounts of forced labor had become prevalent in the Xinjiang Uyghur
Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China.
Under this act, the importation of any items, mined, manufactured,
etc. fully or in part in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the
People’s Republic of China is prohibited under Section 307 of the
Tariff Act of 1930 and said goods are not allowed entry into the U.S.
Even with this Act, there are some very slim exceptions. If a
manufacturer is attempting to import items from this region, those
goods can only enter the United States if the Commissioner of U.S.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) concludes that the importer
complied with specific conditions and had clear evidence that the
imported items were not created in part or fully by forced labor.
The UFLPA also required the integration of the Forced Labor
Enforcement Task Force. It is currently headed by the Secretary of
Homeland Security and works in conjunction with Secretary of Commerce
and Director of National Intelligence where they send a report to
Congress regarding their strategy to support the CBP’s enforcement of
Section 307 of the Tariff Act of 1930 regarding items, produced with
forced labor, imported from People’s Republic of China.
This Act created a lot of significant changes, so the CBP has created
guidance resource for assistance with the implementation of the
UFLPA rebuttable presumption that went into effect June 21, 2022.
To learn more about forced labor provisions and how these new
processes might affect your company,
contact the Van Andel Global Trade Center today
ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR
is a Student Assistant at
GVSU’s Van Andel Global Trade Center
. She is a Junior currently pursuing a Bachelors in Business
Administration undergraduate degree in Finance, Human Resource
Management, and General Management at Grand Valley State University.
She enjoys lifting weights, getting lost in a good video game,
spending time with friends, and going on long hikes.
April 17, 2023
Original post from August 2019
Updated January 2023
The Commonwealth of Australia, the world’s smallest continent and
largest island, is a diverse country with vast iconic natural wonders
like the Great Barrier Reef and the Outback, and heavily concentrated
cities such as Sydney and Melbourne. Being a newly established country
in 1901, it was easy for the country to develop its own cultural
personality. Although the culture can be described as Western with
indigenous influences, foreigners may be surprised by the quirks and
personal touches that Australians have made over time to the standards
of their Western lifestyle.
A significant contributor to Western culture is the multinational and
famed sport of rugby. Although Australia is well-known for being very
much involved in competing internationally in rugby, they are famous
for playing their own version as well, Australian
football. Australian football can be described as a mixture of
rugby, soccer, and American football, with an oval-shaped field and
goalposts that resemble those of American football. To score points,
players kick the ball through the set of goalposts that are on either
end of the field. One of the most intriguing differences in this sport
is that the players can pass to their teammates by kicking the ball or
punching it with their palms, but they cannot throw it. Additionally,
although Australian football is a contact sport, they do not wear any
padding, only a jersey uniform. Australian football is a very
entertaining and popular sport to watch. For this reason, it is a
notable contributor to the country’s economy. The Australian Football
League (AFL) reported revenue of AUD$480 million in 2015.
Economically, Australia is revered as the wealthiest
(per adult) country in the world, with a decently low poverty rate of
13.2% as of 2018.
The United States plays a particularly important role in the economy
of Australia, being that it remains their largest
two-way trading partner in goods and services. This is a result
of the Australian-United States Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA)
that was established in 2005. The passing of this agreement has since
the trade flow by 91%.
As a result of
AUSFTA, there is no surprise that American businesses seek to further
strengthen the trade relationship between the two countries. Business
opportunities in Australia are of wide variety and significance.
However, the quirky culture can often be intimidating for business
persons from other countries. There are three key aspects to
understand that will enhance a business trip to Australia by providing
a deeper appreciation of the country: the business culture, mentality,
Australian Business Culture
Meetings in Australia can seem different from those typically held in
the United States. To start, they are considerably
more laid back. It is typical for Australian business persons to
use colorful language (curse words) in meetings, as well as, crack
jokes to lighten the mood. Additionally, it is common to be addressed
by only your first name, and it is expected that you do the same. Even
though it may not seem like it, Australians
do take these business affairs seriously. Therefore, it is
important to dress the part and be prepared for your meeting. If you
are presenting a proposition or sitting as a chairman, it is expected
that you be punctual and show up to the meeting a few minutes early.
Also, be sure to chat about things like the weather or sports to relax
Modesty and Understanding
A key factor in the business culture of Australia is modesty.
Australians are very modest about their job position; it is very
unattractive to them when a foreigner emphasizes their title and the
greatness of their business. For this reason, it is recommended to not
use an aggressive sales technique to persuade a potential partner, as
most of the time it will not work. Avoid overselling your company, or
coming off as self-important. It is more persuasive if the facts are
laid out for them with a friendly
attitude. But even if you do execute your sale in this way, they
still may clearly express that they are not interested; Australian
business persons are known to be very blunt and honest when
considering a business contract. It is important to prepare for a
straightforward rejection. Of course, this response will not be rude,
but rather, more diplomatic.
Nevertheless, it may take longer than expected to receive this
response. This is because businesses in Australia value a team
environment. The top management of a corporation will most likely consult
their subordinates before deciding. No matter your position in
the company, Australian businesses are very considerate of everyone’s
opinion and expect that it be shared. Patience and understanding are
key in these situations.
Business Etiquette in Australia
Gifts are not expected at business interactions but are greatly
appreciated when given
at the correct time. In Australia, it is commonly understood as
bribing when a person brings a gift to a meeting before the close of a
deal. If you decide to give a gift, simply have one prepared if a
close or agreement arises. This will come off as congratulations and
will be admired.
Additionally, if invited out to dinner or drinks, do not begin to
discuss business unless the counterpart does so. It can be seen as
rude, or pushy if a business person attempts to bring a pitch to the
table because it can cause stress and create a serious atmosphere.
If you are planning a trip to Australia for business purposes, it is
recommended to understand the unique business culture, mentality, and
etiquette of the country. A comprehensive education of these elements
of their lifestyle will allow more of a relationship and connection to
develop between two business persons of different backgrounds. And, if
you have some free time in Australia, attempt to catch an Australian
football game - you will not be disappointed.
Learn more about the country, trade, and culture of Australia by
registering for the Business Travelers Series: Navigating Australia on
February 15, 2023 from 9am - 10am EST. This virtual event is
generously sponsored by The
Gerald R. Ford
Michigan Economic Development Corporation
Interested in Traveling to Australia?
Contact the Michigan Economic Development Corporation today to
the Michigan and Pennsylvania co-hosted trade
mission to Sydney and Melbourne, Australia with an option to visit
MI-STEP Funding From MEDC
Did you know that qualifying Michigan companies have the opportunity
to receive STEP funds for International Trade Missions and Trade Shows
like this one?
To find out if your company is eligible new companies must complete
and submit an online intake form here. Existing
clients can contact your regional international trade manager. Funds
will be approved for specific and measurable export initiatives. Funds
for the MI-STEP program are subject to availability. Learn more about the MI-STEP program here.
About the Contributor
Mackenzie was an undergraduate student at Grand Valley State
University and a student assistant at the Grand Valley State
University’s Van Andel Global Trade Center. She majored in
International Business and Finance while minoring in Spanish.
January 5, 2023